New York Jets: Top 5 reasons why Christian Hackenberg makes sense
Oct 31, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) calls signals at the line against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the third quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State won 39-0. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets are still in the market to add another quarterback into the mix. One that can be developed to hopefully be a starting option for Gang Green down the road.
Whether or not Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to the Jets, truth of the matter is they still need to add more options for the future at quarterback. At the current moment, Geno Smith is entering the final year of his rookie contract and Bryce Petty is simply nowhere near ready to be an effective starter. He’s at least another year or two away from being ready to compete to earn a starting position.
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There is an old saying when it comes to any NFL team trying to find that franchise quarterback. You keep drafting one every single year until you find that diamond in the rough. Unfortunately for the Jets, they haven’t had a franchise quarterback since the days Joe Namath was under center.
All that could potentially change if they want to use one of their draft picks in the 2016 NFL Draft on a quarterback. While it isn’t recommended they use their first-round pick on one, they should use a draft pick for the position in the middle rounds of this year’s draft.
One such quarterback that would be perfect for the Jets is Christian Hackenberg. Without further ado, here are the top five reasons why drafting him makes a ton of sense for the Jets.
Next: 5. Tremendous upside when coached and trained properly
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg throws a pass during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
5. Tremendous upside when coached and trained properly
It’s no secret that Hackenberg thrived when he was under the right coaching and training. In his first year at Penn State with at the time head coach Bill O’Brien, Hackenberg put up quite the season. In 2013, Hackenberg totaled 2,955 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and had an overall quarterback rating of 134.0.
Needless to say, in his rookie year at Penn State he was performing very well. Then O’Brien got an opportunity to be the next head coach of the Houston Texans and has since been doing well in the NFL. After O’Brien left, Hackenberg was never the same.
Looking lost and confused most of the time after O’Brien’s departure from Penn State, Hackenberg regressed and it tremendously hurt his overall draft stock. Most players thrive due to consistent coaching and training as the potential is definitely there with the new leadership regime of the Jets which would tremendously boost his game.
With head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, Hackenberg would do well being developed by the Jets as he wouldn’t be thrown to the wolves right off the bat. He could take a year off, just like the Jets did with Petty in 2015 and be properly coached and trained to hone his craft to the next level.
Next: 4. Should still be available in Round 3
Jan 2, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
4. Should still be available in Round 3
As previously mentioned, Hackenberg’s regression due to the lack of consistent coaching and training hurt his overall draft stock. Many analysts feel that he could be a first-round draft pick but no team would reach so high considering he will need a lot of development to take his career to the pro level.
The Jets aren’t in a rush to add another quarterback as many believe Smith could potentially have similar if not better results with the supporting cast around him. Considering the Jets’ salary cap situation is very tight, there really are no other free agent quarterbacks out there that could immediately start if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return.
Either way, when the Jets are on the clock with their third-round draft pick, Hackenberg should still be available for the taking. It’s imperative the Jets more than likely use their third-round pick on him as in the second round, they should address their overall pass rush by drafting the best available pass rusher.
Since the Jets will more than likely use their first-round pick on an offensive lineman or linebacker, drafting Hackenberg in the third round would be a great acquisition. That way, right off the bat they’ll have upgrades at offensive line, linebacker and another developmental quarterback to work with for the future.
Next: 3. Stats don't lie
Nov 21, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Beaver Stadium. Michigan defeated Penn State 28-16. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
3. Stats don’t lie
Even though he regressed a bit in his overall collegiate career, Hackenberg still impressed many with his stats. Overall at Penn State, Hackenberg totaled 8,457 passing yards, 48 touchdowns, 31 interceptions and achieved an overall quarterback rating of 121.4.
He leaves Penn State as their all-time leading passer and will look to carry similar results once he makes the transition into the NFL. Of course things will be much different in the pros but once Hackenberg is able to learn the ins and outs of an NFL offensive playbook for the next year or two, he could turn out to be something really special.
While many believe Petty could also be that long-term franchise quarterback the Jets have been seeking for years now, there is no guarantee he’ll live up to the hype. Petty also has a very good skill-set and it’s great to see the Jets develop him the right way by being patient with his development, but more options are better than less ones when it comes to developing future quarterbacks.
How great would it be in another year or two to have a real competition for the starting quarterback position of the Jets between Petty and Hackenberg? Either way, it would be a great situation to be in having two quarterbacks developed the right way to earn a starting and backup spot respectively.
Next: 2. Ahead of the curve in pro-style offense
Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) gestures to the Michigan State Spartans defense during the second half of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
2. Ahead of the curve in pro-style offense
Only Hackenberg and quarterback Connor Cook have a ton of experience running a pro-style offense. This will put Hackenberg ahead of the curve for the Jets when it comes to developing him to hopefully one day be an option to compete for their starting quarterback spot.
Hackenberg has a very high football IQ and learns plays rather quickly. He’s good at detecting blitzes by opposing defenses and knows how to extend plays by going through the right check downs with his receiving options. He has many leadership qualities that should bode well for the kind of presence he’ll bring to the locker room.
Thanks to the new leadership regime of the Jets, they’re slowly but surely bringing back respect to the franchise by making smart decisions. It’ll take time for it to all come together but so far, they’ve brought in the right players that not only fit the system but also add a nice dimension to their overall team chemistry on the football field.
Hackenberg has excellent work ethics and it showed every single time he was under center. He might have regressed towards the later parts of his collegiate career but he did the best he could with the lack of support around him on offense.
Next: 1. It's all about the supporting cast
Oct 31, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) calls a play at the line against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State won 39-0. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
1. It’s all about the supporting cast
Hackenberg is undoubtedly a future franchise quarterback in the making and worth investing in. The Jets, based on just one season under their new leadership regime, know that for the team to be successful it’s all about building the right supporting cast.
Fitzpatrick broke records last season thanks to the Jets bringing in better offensive lineman, receivers and upgrading their overall defense during the offseason. They were just one game away from making the NFL Playoffs and failed to deliver when it mattered most.
The Jets will only continue to get better as so far this offseason, they might have lost some valuable pieces but have added possibly better ones to fill the void. Whether it’s Fitzpatrick, Smith or any other option the Jets decide to go with at quarterback next season, they should just be fine thanks to their strengths being their potent running game and defense.
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They just need a decent quarterback that can manage the clock and make key passes to let the receivers take care of the rest. If the Jets draft Hackenberg and develop him over the next few years while also adding top talent around him, it could very well be a recipe for major success once it all comes together. Once he’s ready to compete for the starting quarterback spot and can actually earn it, it would prove to be a wise investment that would benefit the Jets for many years to come.